When it comes to eating out, it can be challenging to make healthy choices. With tempting menu items and large portions, it’s easy to give in to indulgence. However, with a little planning and awareness, it is possible to enjoy a delicious meal while still prioritizing your health.
How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out
1. Research the Menu
Before heading to a restaurant, take some time to research the menu. Many restaurants now provide their menus online, allowing you to review the options ahead of time. Look for dishes that are labeled as “healthy” or “low calorie.” These options are typically lighter in calories and offer more nutritious ingredients.
Additionally, be mindful of cooking methods. Choose grilled, baked, or steamed options as these are usually healthier than fried or deep-fried dishes. By familiarizing yourself with the menu, you can make a more informed decision when it’s time to order.
2. Opt for Smaller Portions
Portion sizes at restaurants are often much larger than what is recommended for a healthy meal. To avoid overeating, consider ordering an appetizer or splitting an entree with a friend. Another option is to ask for a to-go container when your meal arrives and immediately place half of it inside for later. This helps control portion sizes and prevents mindless eating.
If there are no smaller portion options on the menu, consider ordering from the children’s menu. These meals are typically smaller and can be a healthier choice for adults who don’t want to be overwhelmed by a large plate of food.
3. Ask for Modifications
Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications when ordering. Most restaurants are accommodating and willing to make adjustments to meet your dietary needs. For example, you can ask for your dish to be prepared with less oil or dressing, or request for the sauce to be served on the side. These small changes can significantly impact the calorie and fat content of the meal.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to substitute ingredients. If a dish typically comes with fries, ask for a side of steamed vegetables or a side salad instead. By making these simple modifications, you can create a healthier and more balanced meal.
4. Be Mindful of Beverages
Many people forget that beverages can contribute a significant amount of calories to their overall intake. Instead of ordering sugary sodas or cocktails, opt for water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water. These choices are not only healthier but can also help you stay hydrated.
If you do choose to have an alcoholic beverage, enjoy it in moderation. Alcoholic drinks are often high in calories and can lead to overeating. Stick to one drink and alternate with water to reduce your overall intake.
5. Control Your Sides
Sides can be a sneaky source of extra calories. Instead of automatically choosing the fries or chips, look for healthier options like a side salad, steamed vegetables, or fruit. If you can’t resist the fries, consider sharing a side with someone else to avoid consuming the whole portion yourself.
6. Don’t Skip Breakfast or Lunch
One common mistake when dining out is skipping breakfast or lunch in anticipation of a big meal. This often leads to overeating and making poor food choices later in the day. Instead, make sure to eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day to avoid arriving at the restaurant overly hungry.
By fueling your body with nutritious food before going out, you will be less likely to make impulsive choices or overindulge.
Remember, making healthy choices when eating out doesn’t mean depriving yourself of delicious food. It’s all about being aware of what you’re consuming and making mindful choices. By following these tips, you can still enjoy dining out while prioritizing your health.